Poor power supply remains one of the major problems in Nigeria. In this interview with UDEME AKPAN, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Lumos Nigeria, Mrs Peju Adebajo, disclosed that operators are ready to support the Federal Government in delivering renewables to consumers, to support the nation’s national grid.
There were a couple of global situations happening at the same time, one of which was the health pandemic, the coronavirus, and on the other hand, the oil shock, which led to a loss in revenue for Nigeria – resulting in an adjustment to the national budget.
Many of our trading partners globally are also suffering from the effects of this sudden health shock and economies worldwide are facing the prospect of recession and a decline in GDP. Nigeria is no exception.
Sectors like aviation, manufacturing and hospitality have been badly affected and even places of worship like churches and mosques.
Some, like food and healthcare, are thriving. The restriction on movement and social distancing has disproportionately affected many small or micro-enterprises with some organisations laying off staff, not paying or not improving salaries.
Purchasing power is affected and there is an air of uncertainty. All of these issues can be overcome, but it is challenging for Nigeria considering our dependence on oil revenues.
The government is juggling a number of balls, working with a reduced budget and planning the economic recovery.
The Federal Government has done a lot and I do commend these efforts, because despite a dip in revenues, the government has continued to deploy several interventions towards managing the current economic situation.
For example, the CBN fund with reduced interest rates for businesses, the NIRSAL facility for smaller businesses, a healthcare fund, and payments to people on the social register. Importantly, the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) including the plan to introduce five million Solar Home Systems for twenty-five million people. This is very commendable and an excellent opportunity for the renewable energy industry.
In the lockdown and because of social distancing, many of us could not carry out activities as normal, and among the top problems faced were lack of reliable power and connectivity issues.
We all know that energy is crucial to the effectiveness of most of our operations. Energy and transportation account for between 40 and 70 per cent of business operating expenses.
Many established organisations have alternative sources of power to the grid (usually generators) and during lockdown, had to run generators for long hours, with attendant cost implications, making the need for reliable power more pressing.
Due to social distancing, the need for technology becomes very essential and technology depends on having stable power.
Power is also crucial to small businesses such as welders, hairdressers, barbers, tailors and the likes. Pre-COVID MSMEs accounted for about 90 per cent of the workforce and 80 per cent of the economy.
So, the ability to supply these MSMEs who are off grid, or do not have steady power, is our number one priority at Lumos. Having stable power in itself is a crucial need to be addressed.
We are ready to do more. We appreciate the government for tackling the power sector problem head-on. We need to fix the grid, and it will take a lot of money and may be a couple of years down the line.
The government recognizes that with the cost of renewable energy coming down, it has become the most efficient and effective to deploy. Renewable energy can be deployed in areas that are too far and simply uneconomic for the grid.
So, both in areas where there is an unreliable grid or where there is no grid, renewable energy, and in particular solar energy, given the amount of sun we have in Nigeria, makes the most economic sense.
From a climate perspective, solar energy leaves the lowest footprint. It is green and clean, does not pollute the air or water and does not make noise.
From an economic point of view, it is quick to deploy, and this is critical for economic recovery. Fortunately, the pandemic gave us an opportunity to validate the importance of solar energy because many people are seeking affordable and efficient alternatives to generators, which are so expensive to run.
We also observe that many critical operations like Bank and Telecoms Call Centres, which have an increased workload because of the pandemic.
Some had to move their call centre operations to enable social distancing and so solar was a viable option for swiftness and cost efficiency.
Every crisis brings opportunities; the pandemic was an opportunity for the solar industry. And we are ready. Lumos is already the market leader in the industry with over 100,000 active installations across every state in the country.
We have over 700 installers and over 60 strategically located mini warehouses across the country.
So, we are probably the only renewable energy company that has a nationwide footprint with a large active installed base. We are ready to support and do even more to ensure that the government achieves the goal of getting power to everyone.
Our system is very simple, It consists of a panel, which you put on the roof or wherever you can catch the sun and an indoor unit which has a battery, which converts and stores the power from the sun.
All you need to do is attach your appliances to the indoor unit and immediately you have light.
Coming into the market 5 years ago, we initially had just one product called ‘Lumos Classic’. We recently rolled out two more products, ‘Lumos Eco’ and ‘Lumos Prime’.
The ECO has an output of 70W DC and 60W AC, while the Prime has an output of 100W DC and 85W AC.
These products can power energy-efficient appliances such as Fan, TV, Radio, Light Bulbs, laptop computer for your basic comfort.